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ECOWAS tasks member states on Regional Integration

The President, ECOWAS Council of Ministers, Shirley Botchwey, says there is the need for the region’s leaders to continue to build resilience and enhance the integration programmes of the Community.

Ms Botchwey, who is also Ghana’s foreign minister, was speaking at the opening of the 87th Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Council of Ministers in Abuja.

Ms Botchwey said it was important to advance the “regional integration agenda” and transform the lives of ECOWAS citizens.

Such measures were required to surmount the main challenges facing the region, she insisted, categorising the priority areas into three: namely Health, security and climate change.

The Ghanaian Foreign Affairs Minister said with the threat of Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with the new Omicron variant, there was need for regional solidarity to tackle its effects.

“…. With the risk of a new wave and several countries closing their borders, we must rely more than ever on our regional solidarity,” Ms botchwey urged.

She said the recurrence of terrorist attacks in the frontline countries of the Sahel – Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger Republic and Nigeria – with its many victims, was yet another issue that required a cooperative response.

The diligent implementation of ECOWAS’ plan of action against terrorism was needed to support and complement national efforts, the Ghanaian diplomat stressed.

On climate change, Ms Botchwey pointed out that it was a constraint on the regional integration process and against which an ecological transition must be undertaken, with measures like renewable energies and adaptive agricultural policy.

According to her, “Working together on all these issues, our prospects for success are significantly enhanced and would create the conditions for a thriving Region.”

The adoption of the institutional reforms of the regional body had given room to a flexible organizational structure which aligns with ECOWAS vision 2050, Ms Botchwey said.

“On internal matters,” she went on, “we have been able to adopt institutional reform. This reform will allow our organisation to have a flexible organisational structure that fits perfectly with the new ECOWAS Vision 2050, which has been finalised and is ready for adoption.”

Proponents of the institutional reform have also claimed that it will allow Institutions within ECOWAS to ensure the continuity of the dreams of its Founding Fathers as well as adapt to new technological, economic and social realities.

President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Claude Kasse Brou, said despite Covid-19 pandemic, which has ravaged the world, the activities of the ECOWAS Institutions were still ongoing.

He described the recent elections held in Carpe Verde, The Gambia, Niger and Benin as an “attestation to the vitality of democracy in the region”.

The 87th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers was the first physical meeting to be held in two years at the Commission’s Headquarters in Abuja, arising from the effect of Covid-19 pandemic.

Reporting by Idara Ukpanyang; Editing by Adeniyi Bakare and Tony Okerafor